Translation – UK – Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights

Steven Lenton proves that not all pink books are dumb and that not all fairy tales are the same. With Princess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop Knights we discover that intelligence and grit are far better values than strength and brutality.

Technical details: 

TitlePrincess Daisy and the Dragon and the Nincompoop KnightsTitleKsiężniczka Jula, Smok i Rycerze Niedorajdy
AuthorSteven LentonTranslatorKatarzyna Androsiuk
IllustratrorSteven Lenton
Year of publication2015Year of publication2016
Publishing companyNosy CrowPublishing companyWydawnictwo Zielona Sowa
Original languageEnglishLanguage of translationPolish
Country of originUnited KingdomCountry of translationPoland

Review of the book

I never thought I would buy a book that pink. The colour almost hurt my eyes when browsing through the shelves of the bookstore. But somehow I felt compelled to take a look at it (still affected by all the pink brainwashing from my childhood?) and I realized this is not the book you think it is at first sight – that is, a girly princess-to-be-rescued kind of book. Instead, it is a book about a bunch of incompetent knights and a much more incompetent king who fail to save the day and a smart princess who knows better.

Once I was playing with a 5-year-old who had a huge toy castle with different action figures inside. He pretended that there was some sort of war going on and he started to provide all the people in the castle with tiny swords. He didn’t give a sword to the princess though, and when I pointed that out he looked at me very seriously and told me, ‘No princess at that time knew how to use a sword’. Of course, the statement was true from a historical point of view, but it hurt me to think that he just left the princess alone in the castle without a single weapon to defend herself.

This book starts with a great quote:

“The trouble with most fairy tales is that they sound the same. There’s usually a problem and a dragon who’s to blame. And sometimes there’s a tower with a princess stuck inside, a kingly dad and lot of knights who often want a bride. But though this is a fairy tale with all the usual team, if you read on you’ll find that things aren’t always what they seem”.

A tired king is awaken by the shouts of people asking for help – the forest in on fire. The princess deducts that the fire was caused by a dragon and soon the king sets out to find a brave knight who will slay the dragon and get the princess in return. Until this point, everything looks like your average princess book. However, the knights turn out to be completely useless and self-centred and someone else needs to step up. Spoiler alert – the princess has decided to deal with the dragon herself. But she’s not going all Joan of Arc to defeat the beast, she has figured out the problem and she won’t need to battle. Common sense and intelligence are the way to save the kingdom.

I am not a fan of princess books. I am certainly not a fan of pink books (and if I were the author I’d really, really want to have that cover in a different colour), but this story is very nice and the rhymes are funny and witty. It is a pity that the cover is not going to attract many boys because of that nonsense rejection of everything pink. The plot is nevertheless relevant both for girls and boys and I love how it is not condescending and at the same time it’s manifestly showing how it is much more useful to think and find smart ways of dealing with problems than just letting your prejudices and tradition lead you.

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